Early this morning, competition began at the 2022 Meiringen World Cup in Switzerland. This event marked the beginning of this year’s World Cup Series and has already shown surprising results amongst its semi-finalists.
Although the opening event of the Series was supposed to take place in Russia last week, the ongoing War in Ukraine compelled the IFSC to sanction Russia from competition at every level. As such, the World Cup that was scheduled for last weekend will now take place late in Brixen, Italy June 10-12.
In 2021, the Boulder World Cup Series also kicked off in Meiringen. A lot has changed since last year’s event, making this year’s competition particularly exciting. For Canadians, Team Canada sent a full team of athletes to this World Cup event. For Americans, many will watch to see if Natalia Grossman can retain her World Cup Series title. Similarly, Brooke Raboutou’s rapid improvement will be something to watch. Both athletes had break out seasons last year.
Furthermore, both countries have strong new contenders in their women’s category, with Madison Fischer pulling incredibly consistently between last year’s North American Cup Series events, National events, and the recent High Performance Competition. In the US, Kylie Cullen, Maya Madere, and Cloe Coscoy could each see massive improvement after consistent national-level seasons.
With the above accounted for, let’s look at the women’s results. The two-competition format split the field between Group A and Group B. Each group completed five boulders unique to their group. Competitors had five minutes to climb each problem. They were allowed five minutes rest between each bloc.
Although some consistencies remained from the 2021 season, several breakthrough athletes made their appearances in this morning’s qualification round. Canada’s Madison Fischer ultimately qualified in ninth, making her the first Canadian woman to make a Boulder semi-final at a World Cup in years.
Ontario’s Fischer climbed four out of five problems and secured five Zones, continuing her strong season from last year. The powerful boulderer has pushed herself hard over these last seasons, striving for greater and greater successes in her pursuit of the World Cup goal. She made finals at the Albuquerque and Kanata North American Cup Series events in 2021 and took Bronze in Canadian Boulder Nationals. Most significantly, Fischer secured gold at the recent High Performance Boulder Competition in B.C.
Other irregularities in this morning’s event came from those athletes that did not qualify for the semi-final. Japan’s Olympic silver medalist Miho Nonaka had a rough competition and qualified in 27. Slovenia’s Vita Lukan and America’s Maya Madere also qualified out of the top 20, ending their Meiringen World Cup journey.
With that said, Team USA had a very strong showing with four athletes carrying on to the semi-final. Cloe Coscoy, Kylie Cullen, Brooke Raboutou, and Natalia Grossman each qualified for the semi-final, with Grossman and Raboutou tied behind first place finishers Janja Garnbret and Ayala Kerem. Grossman climbed in Garnbret’s group while Raboutou climbed in Kerem’s group.
Kerem’s performance was perhaps the most astounding of the round, taking her first, first-place qualification in a World Cup event. The 20-year-old Israeli showed great proficiency as the only athlete in her group to Top all five problems.
Raboutou remained on form throughout the round as well. While Grossman did not Top as many problems as Garnbret, she did outperform the Slovenian on attempts. While it is always hard to bet against Garnbret, Grossman is still very much in contention for first position despite her only Topping four of five problems.
Although the top of the women’s field is stacked, one notable detail of the semi-final-qualified athletes is the depth of their field. Even compared to last year, the number of athletes in semis that could vie for first has potentially increased from Grossman and Garnbret to include Kerem as well. Furthermore, the number of athletes in contention for finals now reflects the men’s field in that most anyone in the Top 20 could make finals.
Despite qualifying low, Serbia’s Stasa Gejo, Austria’s Jessica Pilz, and France’s Oriane Bertone could each push into the top six. Still, climbing past Japan’s Futaba Ito and Italy’s Camilla Moroni will prove difficult as both women established their prowess on the world stage last year. The density of skill in this year’s field is unprecedented, and should make for an exciting semi-final tomorrow at 5:00 am EST.
Women Advancing to Semis
1 – Janja Garnbret (SLO)
1 – Ayala Kerem (ISR)
3 – Natalia Grossman (USA)
3 – Brooke Raboutou (USA)
5 – Hannah Meul (GER)
5 – Camilla Moroni (ITA)
7 – Futaba Ito (JPN)
7 – Sol Sa (KOR)
9 – Chloe Caulier (BEL)
9 – Andre Kümin (SUI)
9 – Madison Fischer (CAN)
12 – Franziska Sterrer (AUT)
13 – Chaehyun Seo (KOR)
13 – Jessica Pilz (AUT)
15 – Oriane Bertone (FRA)
15 – Stasa Gejo (SRB)
17 – Kylie Cullen (USA)
17 – Lucia Dörffel (GER)
19 – Cloe Coscoy (USA)
19 – Fanny Gibert (FRA)
Featured image of Hannah Meul by Jan Virt